September 18, 2000, Monday, Final Edition
Handing triumph to the enemy
BYLINE: A.M. Rosenthal
SECTION: PART A; COMMENTARY; Pg. A17
Here he goes again. One more time, Bill Clinton has turned over the decision on the use of American military power to a dictator commanding enemy forces.
The president of the
The condition was that the United Nations be allowed,
without hinder, to inspect all of
From this condition hung another, essential to enforcing the
peace – an embargo against trade with the world until he proved he no longer
had plans and plants designed to give him the nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons that are now only about a year from reality. With them, he expects to
rule the Middle East and challenge the
So we have to face it. Saddam has triumphed. A decade after
he lost the war, the fears he would win the military and political fruits of
peace now are realized as fact. His defiance of the
It is the greatest, and perhaps fatal, setback to the U.N.'s ability to enforce a peace. It came a few days after the U.N. was preening itself at a millennium celebration whose purpose or worth remains vague. Saddam had been throwing political and physical body blocks at the U.N. inspection teams for most of their decade of existence. Still the
inspectors managed to keep a leash on what he could do without their presence. So three years ago he effectively ended inspection, by harassment and ouster.
The U.N.'s response, with
When recently the new inspectors demanded by Saddam said
they were ready to go in, after months of training, Saddam told them and the
U.N. to be damned -the inspectors could not enter
He also banned U.N. humanitarian specialists supposed to see just how much the embargo's damage to civilians was Saddam-made. He has stockpiled military parts and foreign luxuries by selling $30 billion in oil abroad, even exporting food and medicines.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made the announcement
at the U.N. of the about-face in American policy on using force to save
inspection. No advance notice to the
American public. She said Saddam was still "in the box," but of
course it is really the
that its support for Saddam is unacceptable.
(We may have had visits from
information about Saddam and his ways in this book.)
If there are no inspectors in Iraq, armed with high
technique and high morale against his constant harassment, how will the U.S.
find out whether Saddam is on the very verge of producing the weapons of mass death
- or already has them? Will he send the next president an e-mail saying
Last year, Mr. Clinton said he would not use troops against Serbian forces if they attacked Kosovo. With that promise in his pocket, Slobodan Milosevic ordered his own troops to attack. That and the NATO air blitz turned Kosovo into a blaze of horror. It will keep burning.
Now the administration is playing a reprise of the funeral
march of appeasement before Mr. Clinton can toss responsibility for dealing
with Saddam to a new president and let him try where the
A.M. Rosenthal, the former executive editor of the New York Times, is a
nationally syndicated columnist.